Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan

As President Obama announced plans to send 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan to tackle the Taliban, BBC's Mark Urban spent time with some of the troops on the front line in Helmand province.

"I heard Kilo company lit up nine guys today," said Craig, a young US marine, his face illuminated by the flickering flames that separated us.

Craig, square-jawed and of Irish American stock from Boston, looked like a young Kennedy stranded in Afghanistan. Night had fallen over the shattered compound in Now Zad where we were bedding down.

The company that Craig and I were attached to, Lima, had spent its day blasting its way through an area of abandoned farms believed to be host to dozens of Taliban.

But the enemy, pausing only to shoot at the vehicle that brought us in, had not given Craig and the other members of Lima Company the fight - and the kills - they had hoped for.

"You seem disappointed?" I asked another member of the squad, Josh, a gravel-voiced lance corporal from Missouri.

"Sure we are," he replied without hesitation, his blue eyes peering out of a tired face blackened with camouflage cream.

These soldiers were taking part in an operation called Angry Cobra, a big set-piece offensive involving more than 1,000 marines, Afghan, British and Danish troops. Its aim was to break the Taliban hold on Now Zad, a district centre in northern Helmand province.

For the full article click here for BBC Online

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